Osteochondritis Dissecans In Dogs – Symptoms, Diagnosis And Treatment

Osteochondritis Dissecans In Dogs

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Osteochondritis Dissecans in dogs or OCD is nothing like the compulsive canine behaviour that we talked about earlier. Rather, this illness is more to do with their joints. It is a painful condition but if you are vigilant you can treat them on time and help them live a normal pain-free life.

Osteochondritis Dissecans In Dogs

OCD is very common in big dogs like Great Danes, Labradors, Golden Retrievers etc. But not all big dogs are susceptible to it. Dobermans and Siberian Huskies are few of the big dogs that are not prone to OCD in dogs.

What Is Osteochondritis Dissecans

The cartilage around the shoulder and hip joints are supposed to be thick and smooth so that the joints can move easily. But for a dog with OCD, their cartilage is either too thin because of inadequate nutrition, or, it is not properly developed because the dog grew too fast.

Because the cartilage is underdeveloped and too weak, it wears down and the joints rub against each other whenever your dog tries to move. 

OCD most commonly takes place on the hips and shoulders, it less commonly occurs on the elbows and knees as well. You will notice visible signs of pain. 

What Causes Osteochondritis Dissecans In Dogs

Be wary of breeders who try to sell you the biggest puppy of the litter. Puppies that grow too fast are prone to OCD and a host of other illnesses.

Also, ask to meet the parent dogs. Osteochondritis Dessecans is almost always passed on from the parent to the offspring. Check if the parents have any problems with walking and if they have any limping.

Other reasons for OCD is when puppies have too much or too little calcium than what is required. Many traditional veterinarians put healthy puppies on calcium supplements. Though this is well-intentioned, too much calcium can lead to OCD. Ask for a blood test to check calcium levels before using any supplements.

Obesity can also lead to OCD, especially in big dogs. Their body goes through a lot of pressure to reach their full size. If they are overweight, it adds even more pressure. So try to give your pet adequate nutrition and healthy meals so that they don’t put on weight.


Puppies between 4-6 months will show symptoms of OCD. Common symptoms of OCD include:


Vets will usually check for OCD by touching and attempting to move their affected limb. If the dog squeals in pain or shows aggression doctors may order an X-ray. This will give them an idea of how severe the condition may be, and how to proceed with the treatment.


As we said earlier, treatment varies depending on how severe the condition in. If it’s mild OCD, wherein the affected cartilage has a very small crack or a flap, the doctor may recommend rest for a few weeks.

If you give them complete rest, stop them from running, jumping and any other forms of physical activity, it may heal on its own.

Unfortunately for some dogs, it’s a little too severe. Fragments of the flap may chip off and cause the puppy even more pain. In this case, the puppy will need surgery.

The surgeon will remove loose fragments of the cartilage and smoothen the cartilage so that stops rubbing on the joints and cause them irritation. With time the area will naturally fill in with fibre cartilage and thus ease them from the pain.

They will need at least 4 weeks of rest post the surgery for their cartilage and joints to recover. But if you give them proper rest, they should have a full recovery.

Surgery and post-operative care are essential to make sure that the dog makes a full recovery. Since this mostly happens to puppies, they tend to bounce back to health without any complications.

Life-Long Care

With big dogs, you need to pay attention to their joint health, not just to prevent OCD but a host of other problems like hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, etc.

Prevent them from jumping and running in full speed on concrete flooring. The grass is much better for their feet as it gives them the right amount of padding and protects their joints.

It is also important to make sure that they are in the right weight range. Follow their diet chart very carefully and don’t give them table scraps as much as you can.

Help them live active lifestyles because becoming a couch potato can also lead to weight gain. The more you walk them and play dog safe games they are less likely to gain weight.

Give them dog food that has a healthy dose of calcium and phosphorus and avoid supplements as much as you can.

Did your dog ever have Osteochondrosis Dessacans? How bad was it and did they need surgery? Tell us all about it in the comment section below.

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About Dheepakh

About Dheepakh

Dheepakh is a dedicated pet parent. His love for his dogs turned him into a pet food enthusiast. He has dedicated all his life to understand pet food nutrition and is eager to learn everyday.

One Reply to “Osteochondritis Dissecans In Dogs – Symptoms, Diagnosis And Treatment”

  1. Lucy Sharkey

    I have 2 young dogs from different breeders in different states present with joint conditions before 5 months of age. One has OCD and the other has pano. Neither Breeder has these problems in their lines so I’m trying to find the problem at home. Can it be too much playing, calcium to phosphate ratio, well water, even giardia treatments. Any ideas?

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